Healthcare associations and medical societies are essential for the advancement of medical science. Associations are where physicians network, communicate, find and share valuable insight and information, earn credentials, and so much more. The backbone of a great healthcare association is AMS software. After having met many of you last week at the annual AAMSE Conference in Baltimore, I thought I’d answer a question that seemed to be on everyone’s minds: What is the best way to assure your software is meeting the needs of your organization?
1. Choose Configuration over Customization
It may not sound like there’s a big difference between the two, but there is a huge difference. It comes down to how the system is built and enhanced. A configured system will allow you to change the base product to your specific needs without changing, or even touching, the core software. A customized system, however, relies on building the software differently from the start, making it difficult and expensive to upgrade the product later. This means that in a few years you’ll have an outdated system that’s tremendously time-consuming and expensive to fix or replace.
2. Make Sure the System Is Capable of Handling Large Conferences & Committees
One of the biggest benefits of membership management software is the ability to handle association events like conferences and seminars, and to track groups of members that choose to participate in various committees. Event management should be a functionality in your AMS software, so be sure that it is capable of handling the sizes of member groups you need to manage. Event attendance is extremely important, as it can help you manage the assignment of CME’s. The ability to store historical data on committees is also valuable—as this information can help you reach out to members when something they’ve been involved with in the past comes up again.
3. Invest in Data Cleansing & Quality
Speaking of which, no AMS software is any better than the quality of data you feed into it. Implementing a new software system without taking the time to cleanse your data and assure its quality is a sure way to get the new system off on the wrong track. Whether you opt for in-house data cleansing or contract with your AMS provider, this step is essential for success.The old axiom is true: garbage in leads to garbage out! If you’re just loading bad data into the new system, don’t expect good performance. Take the time to cleanse data and establish data quality practices so that your new software will perform to its full potential.
4. Fix Broken Processes
Implementing a new system is the ideal time to assess your organization’s processes and move away from those that no longer work. There’s a reason you’ve made the decision to install a new system, and chances are a big factor was better systems and greater efficiency. Make sure the processes you automate with your new AMS solution aren’t carbon copies of what you wanted to change in the first place. Be open to change—you’ll see your new processes and your new system improving efficiency, staff morale, and member engagement.
5. Keep Up with Regular Upgrades
It’s sometimes tempting to trim a tight healthcare association budget by skipping some regular updates. Don’t. In the long run, it will be even more costly because eventually the entire system will be outdated, inefficient, and in need of replacement. Many updates are released to correct hidden bugs in the software code—things you might not even notice in your daily operations. Then the “technical debt” of too many uncorrected bugs and incompatibilities will catch up with you, rendering the system unfixable. It’s far easier to simply stay on top of updates as they come along, so that you get the maximum life expectancy out of the software you’ve paid for, trained employees to use, and gotten members used to using.